Virginia football
Getty Images

2018 FCS All-American RB commits to Virginia

Leave a comment

Virginia joined South Carolina over the weekend as Power Five football schools realizing a personnel benefit from a lower-level program’s loss.

Two weeks ago, the Colonial Athletic Association announced that it was canceling its 2020 college football season because of the coronavirus pandemic.  One member of that FCS conference is Towson.  Coincidentally or not, one standout member of the Tigers, Shane Simpson, took to Twitter last week to announce that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On that same social media service Sunday, the running back confirmed that he has committed to the Virginia football team.  Simpson had his transfer to-do list down to Virginia and Texas.

As Simpson was a fifth-year senior in 2019, it appears he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Or, is fairly confident he will receive one.

Simpson would likely be eligible for that sixth season as he missed all but four games of his true freshman season in 2015 because of injury, then missed all but the first three games last season because of a serious knee injury.

In 2018, Simpson earned first-team All-American honors.  He finished second in all of FCS with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 2,058 yards on the season.  That same season, the Pennsylvania product was the CAA’s Special Teams Player of the Year and earned three different all-conference honors: first-team at running back, second-team as a kick returner and third-team as a punt returner.

Simpson would be eligible to play immediately in 2020 at the FBS level.

ACC confirms Notre Dame will play 10-game conference schedule, be eligible for league title game

ACC Notre Dame
Getty Images

So much for there being no news coming on the ACC and Notre Dame front this week.

July 9, the Big Ten announced that it would be going to a conference-only schedule for football.  The Pac-12 announced a similar format the next day.  In between, ACC commissioner John Swofford indicated in a statement that he anticipated a decision on football by the conference’s Board of Directors in late July.  Tuesday, however, it was reported that a decision isn’t expected when the board meets Wednesday.  Instead, it may wait until after next Tuesday’s rather sizable NCAA meeting.

In the end, that report turned out to be inaccurate.  Very inaccurate, actually.  Late Wednesday afternoon, the ACC announced that its football schedule will consist of 11 games — 10 conference matchups and one non-conference tilt.  The season will commence over a span of several days, from Sept. 7-12.

Each conference school will have two bye weekends in a season that, if played, would be stretched out over 13 weeks.  Additionally, the non-conference game must be played in the ACC school’s home state.  That stipulation means that all three Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games will not be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as previously scheduled.  That trio of games includes Florida State-West Virginia, Georgia-Virginia and North Carolina-Auburn.  Notre Dame at Navy, Boston College at Kansas and Florida State at Boise State are affected as well, along with a handful of other games.

The kicker?  The ACC confirms that, for this season, Notre Dame will play a 10-game conference schedule.  And would be eligible to play in the league championship game.  That title game, incidentally, will be played in Charlotte either the weekend of Dec. 12 or 19.  It had been scheduled for Dec. 5.  The ACC also confirmed that the title game participants will be determined by the teams with the highest winning percentage in conference play.

The Fighting Irish would also be eligible to claim the ACC’s Orange Bowl berth, if it’s not in the College Football Playoff.

For both the ACC and Notre Dame, this is certainly a monumental development.

Notre Dame has never played in a conference championship game since it began playing the sport way back in 1887.  Why?  Because the Fighting Irish have been a football independent for every one of those 133 seasons.

The ACC becomes the first Power Five conference to formally release a 2020 schedule.  Below is said slate.  And, if that’s too hard to read, click HERE.

ACC reportedly won’t make a decision on football schedule this week

ACC football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was anticipated that some significant news would be coming out of the ACC regarding football this week.  Instead, that scheduling can will be kicked down the road.  Again.

July 9, the Big Ten announced that it would be going to a conference-only schedule for football.  The Pac-12 announced a similar format the next day.  In between, ACC commissioner John Swofford indicated in a statement that he anticipated a decision on football by the conference’s Board of Directors in late July.

Thus, it was expected that an announcement from the ACC on its football schedule would be in the offing in the coming days.  Brett McMurphy, however, is reporting that a decision isn’t expected when the board meets Wednesday.  Instead, it may wait until after next Tuesday’s rather sizable NCAA meeting.

When the ACC ultimately decides on a football scheduling format, it’s expected to include 10 conference games and one out-of-conference matchup.  Additionally, there’s a chance that Notre Dame could be considered a member of the conference for one season, making the football independent eligible for the league championship game.  The Pac-12 will also reportedly play 10 conference games, albeit without one out of conference.

As for the SEC?  They too have been expected to make an announcement at some point this week.  Whether they follow the ACC’s lead remains to be seen.

The Big 12, meanwhile, could wait another two weeks or more before it makes a decision.

Atlanta kickoff series organizer: no fans, no games in Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Getty Images

There is no room for negotiation on one key point as Atlanta organizers consider multiple contingency plans for three season-opening games during the coronavirus pandemic: Without fans, the games can’t be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan, whose organization is making plans for the Florida State-West Virginia, Georgia-Virginia and North Carolina-Auburn kickoff games, says fans must be allowed for the games to be played at the neutral site.

“If there are no fans allowed in the stadium, then we can’t do these games primarily because we only exist in our budget on ticket revenue and sponsor revenues,” Stokan told The Associated Press on Thursday. “All the TV monies are negotiated in a conference package. That money all goes to the conference.”

The Florida State-West Virginia game is scheduled for Sept. 5, followed by Georgia-Virginia on Sept. 7 and North Carolina-Auburn on Sept. 12.

This is the first year Stokan’s committee has planned three kickoff games on the neutral site field. The committee stages the Peach Bowl, part of the College Football Playoff.

Stokan is awaiting decisions from the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 12 on plans for the 2020 season. Those plans could be announced by the end of the month.

If the leagues rule out nonconference games, as already announced by the Big Ten and Pac-12, the kickoff games would not be played.

One or more of the kickoff games also might not survive if the leagues decide on “plus-one” plans to play conference games and one non-conference game. That plan would protect such rivalry games as Georgia Tech-Georgia and Florida State-Florida but might not leave room for the nonconference kickoff game.

The coronavirus pandemic already has led to the cancellation or postponement of more than 300 Division I games.

The season could be pushed back one month or to the spring.

Stokan says he has assurances that dates will be found at Mercedes-Benz Stadium if the games are rescheduled for later dates.

The NFL’s Atlanta Falcons told season ticket holders this week they plan to have 10,000 to 20,000 fans at their home games this season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team plans to leave 50,000 or more seats open to achieve necessary social distancing.

The stadium can be configured for 75,000 fans for college football.

Stokan says his committee is devising a plan with Ticketmaster “on software that would allow us to use the social distancing mechanism of six feet that would allow us to stay safe.”

Stokan says he has been told the conferences are studying the impacts of players returning to workouts at college facilities, students returning to campuses and professional sports returning to competition. It may be difficult for the conferences to have as much information as is needed to make the decision by the end of July to have games in September.

Most professional sports initially returned without fans. NASCAR has allowed some fans in its recent races.

Stokan said it will be more expensive to stage the games “because everybody is going to have to wear a mask.” He said adding expenses while cutting revenue is “a bad way to run a budget.”

Stokan said the latest guidance from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp clears the way for fans to attend with proper social distancing – if the conferences and schools agree.

With no fans, the only option may be to stage the kickoff games on campus sites.

“We’d have to go back to the teams and say we financially can’t do this,” Stokan said.

Report: Notre Dame would be eligible to play in ACC championship game this season

Notre Dame
Getty Images

Football-independent Notre Dame in a conference title game?  That actually could be a thing in 2020.

Since 2014, Notre Dame football and the ACC have had a scheduling relationship that sees the Fighting Irish face at least five teams from that conference each season.  In 2017, the two sides released future schedules through the 2037 season.  The university is also an ACC member in other sports as well.  So, yes, there is an extensive relationship between the two.

This week, the ACC is expected to finalize its plans — or, at least, its next step — for fall sports, including football.  According to‘s Brett McMurphy, the top scheduling model the conference is considering is 10 league games plus one non-conference game.  That would open the door for rivalries such as Clemson-South Carolina and Georgia Tech-Georgia to be played.

McMurphy also notes, though, that “[i]n this format if Notre Dame plays 10 ACC teams, results would count in ACC standings.” And, according to David Teel of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Notre Dame would be eligible for a spot in the ACC championship game.  According to the former report, it’s unclear if the Fighting Irish could earn the ACC’s Orange Bowl bid as that conference’s champion if they knock off Clemson win the league title.

All of this is pending the approval of the conference’s presidents and chancellors, of course.

Notre Dame has never played in a conference championship game since it began playing the sport way back in 1887.  Why?  Because the Fighting Irish have been a football independent for every one of those 133 seasons.

Because of the decisions by the Big Ten and Pac-12 to go to a schedule that consists only of conference games, Notre Dame has already seen three of its 12 regular-season games canceled (Wisconsin, Stanford, USC).  Six of their 2020 games, though, are already with teams from the ACC: Wake Forest, Pitt, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville.  They also have a game against an SEC foe in Arkansas.

Notre Dame was scheduled to open the 2020 season against Navy in Ireland Aug. 29.  However, that rivalry matchup has been moved to Annapolis and will be played either Sept. 5 or Sept. 6.  Under the reported ACC schedule model, that rivalry game would be able to take place.